Sunday, October 22, 2017

31 Days of Halloween 2017: 1922

2017, Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours) -- Netflix

Long gone are my obsessive Stephen King days, but I remember distinctly back then, that I always loved his less-than-horror stories. I liked the way he wrote characters and dove deep into his world building, whether it was small town American (usually) or a period piece. I am not familiar with this novella, actually didn't even know this was to be a King adaptation, until I saw his name in the credits. I almost cringed, because we well know that most of his adaptations suck. Terribly so.

This tale of a man haunted by a decision he made, and all the ramifications, did not suck. In fact, its quite good, if a little one note. Thomas Jane, whom I always like, plays Wilfred James, a farmer in Nebraska whose wife has just inherited some land that could increase his own holding, or benefit her greatly if they sold it to a local conglomerate. To him, a man's land says everything about him. Arlette is a rather independent woman, and she wants them to sell all the land and move to the city. That offends Wilf to his core, so he conspires with their son to kill Arlette and hide her body, claiming she ran away. Nobody would argue; its 1922 Nebraska.

Once the murder is committed, Wilf is haunted almost immediately. First it is the rats he saw gnawing on his wife's body, before he fills in the well. And then its her, surrounded by her rat brood. Is it a hallucination? Is a ghost actually haunting him? It matters not, for the real focus is the guilt it represents, the gut feeling that he has done great wrong, and now nothing but wrong will visit him.

Jane is incredible as Wilf, doing a teeth-clenched accent but more, just wearing the rough-spun farmer's clothes like a unform. You never quite sympathize with him, but you do feel a bit sorry as everything that can go wrong does. He never actually gets caught for the murder, but the consequences are much much worse than jail.

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